HRH, co-workers step up to help woman make trip back to Philippines


Evelita Plisinski will be able to spend three weeks in the Philippines helping her sister and other relatives thanks to the generosity of co-workers who donated enough to help underwrite the trip. (Tom Russo/Daily Reporter)

The low mountain range between Palo and the ocean was all that saved many people in the area from certain death, Evelita Plisinski says. The Hancock Regional Hospital employee's sister and other family members live in the area and are still recovering from the November storm. (Photo provided)

GREENFIELD — One would be hard-pressed to measure the wattage of Evelita Plisinski’s smile when she thinks about going home this spring to see her sister in her native Philippines.

It would be equally difficult to imagine the depths of despair as she learned about Typhoon Haiyan last November. The gigantic storm ripped into the Philippines, leaving destruction, desolation and more than 6,000 dead in its wake.

Among those in the storm’s path were Plisinski’s sister, Suseta Tunamak; her brother-in-law, Ian; and their three children, who live in Palo, Leyte, in the Eastern Visayas, one of the eastern-most constellations of the archipelago.

The date was Nov. 8, 2013. Plisinski has it written in her notebook.

As she has been for 10 years, Plisinski was cheerfully ringing up customers at her cash register in the Hancock Regional Hospital cafeteria that day, when a co-worker asked if she’d heard about the storm ravaging her homeland.

She had not.

“I looked at the storm on my iPhone, and I started to worry,” she said.

There was nothing between the typhoon and the Eastern Visayas but the beach.

“I went home and tried to call on my cellphone, but I couldn’t get anyone,” she said. “I called family in Manila, but they said there was no way to contact Suseta.”

The typhoon had taken everything.

After several days, a Facebook friend reported she had seen Suseta and her family. Their home was destroyed; they had lost everything, but they were alive.

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